Variables and Randomness

Madison’s birth was a lesson in humility. I found myself quickly compromising personal preferences for the sake of practically. As I’ve previously stated, my tolerance for nonsense skyrocketed. I’ve always illustrated this concept by recalling the time I wiped Mad’s runny nose with the inside of my t-shirt without batting an eye. With kids, sometimes you don’t get to pick and choose the best-case scenario. Okay, a lot of the time.

12And that was just with the one kid. Cole and Avery are two more variables which have been added to the equation of our lives and consequently, randomness has risen dramatically. That’s right, math and science.

The first real manifestation was our discovery that the third kid changes everything. We tried to make it work in the Highlander, but eventually, I got tired of planning with military precision every single time we went shopping. Did I ever want to return to the Van Life? No. Oh, well.

I’ve wanted to go to the beach for a really long time, but Avery got really sick, then when she got out, Cole had a runny nose, then Avery had a runny nose and so everything except my forearms, head, and neck are still of my natural pasty white. We’ve made the most of Grandma and Grandpa’s backyard, but I really want to get out there soon. Maybe during Fall Break…

So yesterday – since everybody loves Mem – Avery and Cole hurled themselves at Lynnette and Madison crept up toward her too. “Quick, take a picture!” Lynnette said. I snapped the first one and in an amazing turn of events, ALL FOUR MEMBERS OF MY FAMILY ARE LOOKING IN THE GENERAL DIRECTION OF THE CAMERA! This is an unprecedented event that has more to do with luck than anything else. And then Cole threw up on Madison’s arm. Randomness.

This life – my life – is only possible because of the constant in the center of our family. It was total randomness that brought Lynnette and me together and some kind of weird voodoo that allowed us to fall in love despite our obvious and deep differences. I have always admired people who possess traits that I don’t. That’s why I was drawn to Lynnette: she possessed ambition, patience, intelligence, and incredibly shapely legs. She has a kind of built-in stability and grace under pressure that I can’t even begin to counterfeit. I absolutely suck at planning, so when I do, I feel like some kind of accomplished scholar who’s broken ground with a new earth-shattering discovery. Consequently, I think, I have a hard time making adjustments when those plans fall apart. I never want to make plans so every time they fail I use that as evidence that I should never make plans. It’s only Lynnette that keeps the five of us together. She’s like a super hero whose super-power is to defend against variables and randomness. She’s like Dramamine amid a choppy sea. She’s like a bass line that tells you exactly when and how to move just so. Which is fantastic – because my only super-power is creating similes. Not super-useful.

Dragonite Night

“I feel like something big is going to show up tonight,” I said to Madison as we ate dinner. As vague as that statement is, Madison always knows what I’m talking about. “Really? Why?” she asked. “I don’t know. I’ve just been seeing Dragonites all over the map today,” I said.

1The first Dragonite popped up on the map near a park in Mililani Town. “Can I make it here in 8 minutes?” I asked Lynnette as I showed her the map. “Just go!” she said. Avery was already asleep but Cole was still rolling around on the floor of the play area. I tossed on some clothes and left. I got to the park with about a minute to spare. I could tell where Dragonite spawned because of all the taillights along the side of the road. Dragonite showed up on my screen and I tapped him. “WHY DO YOU HATE ME? I ABANDONED MY FAMILY FOR YOU!” I screamed when I saw his CP. I caught him and did not feel super good about it. I drove home and sheepishly reported to Lynnette my new Dragonite’s CP. She laughed. I plopped down along side Cole and patted him to sleep. A few minutes later, I checked the map again, again Dragonite spawned in Mililani town  – this time a little past Walmart. “Mad, do you want to come?” I asked. “Nah, I’m already in my pajamas, dad,” she said.

2I arrived on the scene and was greeted by several cars haphazardly parked on either side of the road. Dragonite appeared. I parked the car then tapped on the plump orange dragon on my screen and he popped up with the ??? I turned the engine off. “This could be it,” I said. I was dreaming on a 2000+ CP Dragonite with Hyper Beam. I know that sounds incredibly dorky. Basically, I wanted the high trim Toyota Sienna with the  alloy rims and navigation system. So ANYWAY, Dragonite put up a fight. He broke out of a few Ultra Balls. He ate a few berries. Every time he burst out of that ball, I held my breath. I think if he ran and I saw that cloud of dust I would have screamed the kind of obscenities usually reserved for the Mets and Cowboys. Only the things you love can hurt you. But so, yeah, Dragonite decided he wanted to be on my team. When he was secured in the ball, the screen transitioned to this:

3I think I just sat there in the darkness of the van and smiled at my phone. Maybe I did this. Either way, Dragonite is my best friend now.

I don’t know how I got here. Again, I’m a 36 year old man and the thing that brings me the most joy is hunting down digital Pokemon on my phone. I used to be an athlete. I used to write poetry and short stories. Now all I want to do is sit in my car and wait for the next desirable Pokemon to make itself known, then drive to that location and make it mine.

I am still following the Mets’ post-season chase. I really hope they make it. But they’ve lost 3/5 of their rotation. How far can they really go? I watch the Cowboys every Sunday. Dak Prescott might be the truth, but that defense is still terrible. I read the Raw and Smackdown re-caps and watch the PPVs. I follow AJ Styles on Twitter and if no one is looking, I walk through my house with my back hunched over and my head lowered before stopping and yanking an invisible hood back, spreading my arms out, and mouthing “THEY DON’T WANT NONE!” But none of those things makes me as happy as hunting for Pokemon.

Return of Kiddie Pool Sundays

12One of the things we missed out on when Avery was sick was lunch at my parents’ house on Sundays. We’ve been back each of the last three weekends and we’ve also revived our tradition of beating the heat with the kiddie pool. Back when Madison was much smaller (and my parents’ only grandchild) my father would fill the pool in his backyard. Madison was always a water baby so she could sit and splash around in there all afternoon. Eventually, she outgrew that pool and moved on to Mililani Rec centers and the beach.

Cole and Avery look to be following in Madison’s footsteps. Both love sitting in the water and splashing around in waist-deep water. Tanya and Matty bought a splash pad which we set up alongside the pool. Cole’s favorite thing to do in the pool is splash, even if he forgets that this means he’ll be flying water into his own face. He always forgets, splashes the surface of the water, then is shocked when his face is covered with drops of water. He always gets over it and continues splashing away happily. Avery, though, appears to enjoy drinking the water. She sucks the water out of the absorbent balls. She positions herself in such a way that will allow her to drink as if from a fountain when she’s seated in the splash pad. It’s hilarious.

It’s the best when Declan and Madison are in the pool and on the pad, too. I’m grateful that Cole and Avery are able to enjoy such simply things that Madison did, that Matty, Paul, and I did.

Aside: The Cowboys beat the Bears today. Dak Prescott threw his first touchdown pass to Dez Bryant who predictably threw up the X. But that wasn’t the best catch of the day. Nope. Not even close. Today, I turned in the best highlight.

A Working Lunch

Lynnette and I endured the most challenging lunch of our lives today. We were seated in a long booth at Macaroni Grill. Rather than boosters or high chairs – which wouldn’t have kept the twins in check anyway – we decided to box them into the corners of the booth. Lynnette had Cole and I took Avery.

65We might have to request the long booth everywhere we go. The biggest benefit was that we were able to push all of the plates, drinks, and silverware down toward Madison’s side of the table and still managed to be comfortable. The only thing near the four of us were the menus. I tried to read the menu as it lay flat on the table but Avery wasn’t having any of that. Then again, I knew I was going to order lasagna as soon as I stepped into the restaurant. Scanning the menu was just a formality. I hoped that maybe if we tossed a bunch of puffs and mum-mums on the table, Cole and Avery might just prop themselves up against the side of the tables and have a cocktail hour or something. Nope. They wanted to crawl and climb and tear paper off the table.

12The food came out quickly but we weren’t able to immediately eat. When Madison was a baby, Lynnette would feed Mad while I ate as quickly as possible. Then, we’d switch; I’d burp Madison while Lynnette ate. It was textbook zone coverage – Lynnette on the underneath routes with me protecting against the deep throws. We can’t do that now – even though Madison has transitioned into an extra defender – because she takes an ice age to eat her meal. It’s press-man coverage with no safety help. So we did the only thing that made sense: gave them mum-mums and ate as quickly as we could while they were busy stuffing their faces, too.

3Eventually, we tossed a couple of plastic containers on the table and that captured their attention long enough for us to finish our meals. Considering that neither of the twins rolled off the bench onto the floor beneath the table, managed to acquire a fistful of food, spilled a drink, successfully crawled completely onto the table, or smacked their heads on the table or the wall, lunch was a resounding success!

4But wait, it got better! Five minutes after we put them in the stroller and left the restaurant, both of them fell asleep. They just wanted to make sure we consumed our lunch with the highest level of difficulty before taking an afternoon nap. A short while after that, an older woman stopped us as we walked through Ala Moana. “Twins?” she asked. “Yes,” I said. “One boy, one girl?” she asked. “Yes,” I said. But what I really wanted to say was “No, two trolls.”

Cole’s First Steps!

3Avery was alone in the play area when I got home. She smiled when she looked up and saw me. It was the novelty. It wears off quickly. Cole was getting a bath so I plopped down next to Gravy. She was gnawing on Piplup’s head. I propped her up on my stomach. “How was your day?” I asked. “What did you do?” I asked. She smiled, squealed, and rocked her body back and forth. “Sounds like fun!” I said.

When Cole emerged from the bathroom in Lynnette’s arms I shouted his name and shot him with my Bullet Club hand pistol. He made loud, mostly unintelligible noises. Once he was dressed Lynnette turned him loose and the Sun God crawled toward Avery and me then dove at us. I’m usually the one taking the pictures of everyone else so I’m so happy that Lynnette caught this one of those precious 5 minutes when everyone misses Daddy before they realize they don’t. It’s like coming home to puppies. Except they’re human.

Of great note is that Cole took his first steps tonight. He’d been working his way up to it for the last few days. He leaned on the couch and turned to face me. I was a foot or two away. “C’mon, Cole Boy,” I said. He gave me the Evil Cole grin. He squared his shoulders to face me and pushed off the couch into a standing position. “Ho, not the unaided standing pose, ah?” I said reflexively. Yes. Yes, I do hate myself. I clapped my hands and offered encouragement. He took three steps before falling into my outstretched arms. I was too excited to remember what I said, but I’m almost positive it was a chee huu! I don’t know how any of this happened to me.

I just spent the last half hour trying to record a better video than the one I posted to Facebook. It didn’t really work out. He actually took four steps but I wasn’t recording him that time. The clip below is the best of the ones I got tonight. I have fondly titled “Screw Your Blog, Dad”. Enjoy.

iPad 2 Retires, Replaced by iPad Air 2

I always knew this day would come, but that knowledge didn’t make the finality of it all any easier to take.

1Years ago, the school issued iPads to teachers who applied for them. I think it might be the second iteration of the device, but I can’t be sure. I used it sparingly in the classroom for presentations illustrating literary devices. My favorite of these was an illustration of irony using The Doobie Brothers’ “What a Fool Believes”.

There were several times when I was told I would have to give the iPad up, but those directions changed a few days after being issued. Once the iOS upgrades began happening in earnest, the 16 GB memory couldn’t hold down the fort. The iOS and apps grew but my iPad never did. By the middle of last year the battery life was waning and I used it to watch wrestling and Netflix while I did the dishes or other menial tasks. It also helped me replace the innards of a toilet via YouTube. Good times.

2I was told last week that I would have to give the iPad up, so when I got home on Friday afternoon I asked Lynnette what we had planned for the weekend. “Well,” I said. I told her about the sad email. I alluded to some vague regret. “The only thing I want to do for sure is pick up a new iPad,” I told her.

The truth is, I’d been wanting to upgrade for some time, but couldn’t justify it as long as I still had the original and it still worked, no matter how slowly. “Why did dad get a new iPad?” Madison asked. Before I could answer, Lynnette said, “Because Daddy has to give the Ipad back to Damien and he can’t live his life without one anymore.” Hmm. Certainly there is some hyperbole in play there, but the underlying facts are mostly true.

My new iPad Air 2 (strangely, I haven’t named it yet) is so much faster than the old one. It’s got so much more memory room for activities. I was even able to reinstall Knights of the Old Republic! I mean, I probably won’t be able to play it until the twins are 4 or 5, but still. It’s a nice option to have.

I completely reset the old iPad to its original state after I peeled it out of its case. When it restarted, the first word on the screen was “Hello”. I shut it off. The irony was too much. So…

Moving Right Along

Since I no longer have the solitude of the hospital cafeteria to do school work, I’ve had to adjust by staying late after work to grade. I haven’t written anything all week because I only see twins for about two hours  before they go to bed. This sucks, obviously, but it makes the week fly by and makes the weekends seem incredibly important.

The twins wake up between 6:30 and 7:00 in the morning on Saturday and Sunday mornings. This counts as sleeping in for me, so I take them into the living room and let Lynnette sleep for an extra couple of hours. She’s the overnight nurse so I am glad to let her sleep in a bit. Cole, Avery, and I watch college football on Saturday morning and the NFL on Sundays. Cole and Avery were treated to something special this morning every time NFL Red Zone showed footage from the Cowboys game. I screamed the entire time, the only difference was the tone. They also got to hear their very first “DALLLEESSSEE!” today.

12Avery’s sleep habits are getting better. She’s waking up less frequently according to Lynnette, and she’s much less of a murderous psychopath when she does wake. Our electricity bill is going to be outrageous next month because we’ve had to run the living room and bedroom AC through the night. It’s so hot and muggy in our house that none of us can sleep comfortable without the heaven that is AC. The trade off is that Avery’s nose hates AC. Her nose goes off and a thick stream of yuck runs down her face. Of course Avery hates having her nose touched in any way – it probably gives her flashbacks to her stay in the hospital – so we’ve got that going for us. She’s still prone to fits of rage but I can’t tell if that’s a residual effect of her 7 weeks at Kapiolani or just inherited behavior from the Pascua genepool.

Cole’s got all of us excited because it seems like he’s very close to taking his first steps. He can stand unaided for a few moments. He’s started to transfer between standing surfaces, like taking one step in going from the gate* before leaning into the couch. He’s also standing, then doing the one-step-fall thing. He’s really close. I have to admit that I’d forgotten how exciting all of that first _________ stuff can be. Whenever he pushes off the couch to stand alone I start cheering for him. He smiles and he rocks his body. He seems so proud just to be standing at all. Maybe all my cheering is counter-productive. I don’t know. I can’t wait to see him start walking.

*Last week Lynnette finally got tired of watching Cole climb into the laundry baskets and over the plastic bins that bordered their living room play area. She disappeared for a few hours and returned with a plastic gate. You can see it in the video below. It takes up much less space than our old barrier. Another bonus is that when they’re standing along the gate and screaming at us from inside, it looks like the zombie apocalypse. Endearing, really.